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External Research: Tablet PC Technology, Curriculum, and Higher Education 2005 Awards

Tablet PC Technology, Curriculum, and Higher Education 2005 Awards

Microsoft Research announced the eleven recipients of the Tablet PC Technology, Curriculum, and Higher Education 2005 awards, totaling $500,000 (USD) in funding. The objective of this award is to use it as a catalyst to encourage educators to apply resources toward the revising, updating, and validating curriculum and pedagogy in conjunction with tablet technology in higher education.

Tablet PC Technology, Curriculum, and Higher Education 2005 Award Recipients

A Pen-Based Circuit Analysis Tutor
Thomas Stahovich, Robert Calfee
University of California at Riverside

This project is focused on the development and assessment of a pen-based tutoring system to teach fundamental principles of analog circuit analysis. The tutor will teach students how to apply Kirchhoff�s current and voltage laws for nodal and mesh analysis, respectively. It will also teach students how to simply circuits by identifying parallel and series components, and by replacing current sources with equivalent voltage sources, and vice versa. To solve a problem, the student will begin by sketching a circuit and labeling the components. For mesh analysis, for example, the student will then write a voltage law equation for each distinct mesh. The tutor will compare the sketched circuit to the handwritten equations and provide feedback if there are errors. If the student has difficulty performing the various steps of the analysis, such as identifying mesh currents, the program will provide guidance. The tutor will be used in EE 001A, a required, introductory circuits course for computer engineering students at the University of California, Riverside. The educational benefits of the tutor will be assessed by examining improvement in student performance on exam questions.

Ink-a-Sketch: Combining Model-Based and Sketch-Based Design of User Interfaces in the Classroom
Simone Barbosa
Pontificia Universidade Catolica do Rio de Janeiro

We will investigate the usage of Tablet PCs in a combination of structured (shape-driven) and unstructured (ink-driven) applications for teaching user interface design in a Human-Computer Interaction class within a Computer Science course. The Tablet PCs will allow students to record design representations and collaborate with other students, discussing the underlying design rationale and formative evaluation issues in various phases of the design process. We aim to address some challenges involved in using desktop PCs and paper for different user interface representations, ranging from groups losing track of their own design decisions to the lack of collaboration between student groups. Students will be encouraged to keep track of the intermediate (�rejected� or �to be refined�) material, together with the comments and reflections on what should or shouldn�t be included in the final design, and why. Initially, Microsoft Visio will be used for building interaction diagrams and Microsoft OneNote as an annotation and sketching tool. We will analyze which tasks are well supported by ink and sketching, and then elicit the requirements for a tool that will be developed later in the project, to support the integration of structured and unstructured (ink-based) representations for user interface design.

Developing Tablet-Based Tools for Teaching Concurrent Programming
Lin Qiu
State University of New York at Oswego

Concurrent programming is an important and difficult topic in computer science education. It requires a way of thinking that is different from the one that students are taught in the ordinary sequential programming model. This project will develop a tablet-based software tool that allows users to easily sketch a thread interaction diagram and correlate it with runtime visualization. Users can move multiple styluses simultaneously along thread lines in the diagram to control thread execution. This tool can be used by instructors to illustrate problematic runtime situations caused by unlucky event timing. It can also be used by students to depict thread interaction by creating diagrams that can playback a visualization of concurrent execution. We will further extend the tool to support participatory simulation activities where students role-play threads in concurrent execution and observe the behavior of the multithreaded program. We believe the software tool, curricular materials, and pedagogical strategies developed in this project will make the hidden behaviors of concurrent programs visible and improve the teaching and learning of concurrent programming.

Evaluation of Tablet PC Supported Pedagogy
Richard Anderson
University of Washington

This project is to conduct a two year classroom evaluation of Tablet PC supported pedagogy. We will be using Classroom Presenter, a Tablet PC�based classroom interaction system that we have been developing at University of Washington. This study will concentrate on assessing the classroom impact of a style of teaching that augments the traditional lecture by allowing ink-based communication between the students and the instructor. We will build upon our pilot offerings of courses using the technology, which gave us an opportunity to develop both curricula and a pedagogy which incorporates students� ink annotation into the lecture. The evaluation will take place in regularly scheduled courses at University of Washington. Inside of computer science, we will continue deployments in Data Structures, Algorithms, and Digital Design courses. In the College of Forestry, we will use Classroom Presenter in a junior-level sequence on Environmental Science and Resource Management. In the two-year project, we will deploy Classroom Presenter in at least 12 courses, evaluate and assess the classroom impact, and publish detailed findings on the pedagogy and the technology.

An Interdisciplinary Approach to Assess the Educational Value of the One-Tablet Classroom
James Ricky Cox, James Rogers, Ted Thiede, Terry Derting, Renee Fister, Maeve McCarthy
Murray State University

This proposal addresses the need to develop and validate the educational value of the one-tablet classroom in higher education. An interdisciplinary team of faculty members at Murray State University, across and beyond Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics will be involved in a variety of assessment activities to measure learning and course gains, student attitudes toward tablet instruction, and student self-efficacy as a result of the one-tablet model developed at Murray State University. In addition to assessment, an aggressive plan of dissemination will be implemented to promote the pedagogical aspects of the one-tablet model and to allow other institutions to adopt and adapt this model to improve teaching and learning across disciplines. A Regional Tablet PC and Wireless Showcase will also be hosted at Murray State to bring together university faculty, regional industries, and health care professionals to discuss and highlight practical and innovative uses of tablet and wireless technologies.

Assessing and Evaluating the Symbiosis of Tablet PCs and Collaboration-Facilitating Software
Julia Williams
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

Our project leverages our previous award of Tablet PCs from Hewlett Packard with our expertise and experience with DyKnow Vision software that facilitates collaboration in the classroom. At Rose-Hulman we have developed curricula that use Tablet PCs and DyKnow in five courses drawn from three disciplines. What we have observed is that Tablet PCs and their pen-based capability cannot be exploited completely without software like DyKnow that encourages many types of collaboration � between faculty and students, between students, and between one class and another. Thus, our project will assess and evaluate the impact of a symbiosis of hardware (Tablet PCs) and software (DyKnow) on teaching and learning. In year 1, we will focus largely on the two courses where we draw upon the most experience: Introductory Physics and Technical Communication. In year 2, we will extend the assessment and evaluation to include aspects of the entire curricula at Rose-Hulman. By the end of year 2, this interdisciplinary project will involve faculty and undergraduate students in most if not all departments at Rose-Hulman. The unifying principle throughout the project will be our reliance on the assessment expertise of the Rose-Hulman Office of Institutional Research, Planning and Assessment (IRPA), a nationally recognized leader in the field of teaching and learning assessment.

Educational Value and Validity � Student Adaptation to Tablet PC Technology in Business
James Kraushaar, David Novak, Jeff Frolik, Thomas Chittenden
The University of Vermont

The project will team faculty from BSAD and SoE to revise curriculum in several courses and create a multi-prong assessment plan. The plan will enhance a survey that has been given by BSAD to serve multiple disciplines. In addition, focus groups will be conducted in BSAD and SoE to ascertain what about the tablets is effective and why. These results will be disseminated within UVM through workshops and nationally through conferences and journals in both disciplines. This work will also develop training seminars on Tablet PCs and associated software. Both schools expect to gather a better understanding of methodologies for using Tablet PC technology. They will build on their experiences to further integrate tablets within business and engineering curriculums and continue to disseminate the results of their work. The schools will develop an assessment plan to specifically ascertain the benefits of tablets to student learning and student adaptation throughout their academic experiences. They hope to show the benefits of mobility provided by this tool as well as the pen technology. We are confident this technology will continue to improve and have a lasting impact on business and engineering processes which will benefit the �real world� business and engineering communities.

Measuring Effectiveness of Tablet PCs in Teaching and Learning Using AB/C-IT
Vincent DiStasi, Ananda Dushmantha Gunawardena, William P. Birmingham, Gary L. Welton, David J. Ayers
Grove City College

Tablet PCs are expected to significantly increase the effectiveness of technology in the classroom. The promise of the Tablet PC is allowing students to interact with the computer using multiple input modalities such as ink, text, audio, and gestures. Each of these modalities brings a unique advantage compared to laptops. However, no significant study has been performed to date which measures the Tablet PCs effectiveness in both teaching and learning with a significant number of faculty and students. Although anecdotal data suggest that positive learning outcomes are possible as a result of using Tablet PCs, rigorous data collection and analysis need to be performed to demonstrate this. The proposed project will measure the effectiveness of Tablet PCs in education at an institution with a mandatory Tablet PC program, deploying approximately 625 Tablet PCs to every incoming freshman class. We will employ specific pedagogical approaches exploiting the advantages of both the Tablet PC hardware and Tablet PC�based software. We propose to use two complementary adaptive technologies: Adaptive Book for Pre-Lecture Preparation and Post-Lecture Analysis and a Collaborative-Immersive Technology (C-IT), such as DyKnow and Classroom Presenter for activities that are designed for effective delivery and interaction of content in the classroom.

Real-Time Collaboration: Tablet PC�Enabled Pedagogical Strategies to Enhance Nursing Education
Phillip Olla, Phyllis Brenner
Madonna University

The project is a joint venture between the Departments of Nursing and Computer Information Systems. This project will address the impact of technology on nurse educators, students, and the nature of the interaction between the two. The overall project aim is to investigate the adoption of Tablet PCs, utilizing various technologies to enhance the learning environment for nursing students in the classroom, clinical, and community settings. The overall aims of the project are to establish if the use of Tablet PC technology by the faculty enhances active and collaborative learning among students and timeliness of response to changing patient care scenarios, project workflow by students in collaborative groups in addressing needs of vulnerable and underserved populations in the community, and faculty and student confidence in utilizing various application software encountered in nursing practice. An open source content management system accessible from the Web will be used to store and share teaching materials created for this project. Interested parties will be able to download and upload materials such as syllabi, forms, freeware software utilities, image databases, case studies, and templates for nursing informatics education. Multimedia presentations tailored to Tablet PCs use for community-based education will also be made available.

Evaluation of the Tablet PC in Undergraduate Engineering Courses at Howard University
Veronica Thomas, Mohamed Chouikha, Velma LaPoint
Howard University

This project will evaluate the use of the Tablet PCs on teaching and learning in undergraduate engineering courses at Howard University. The formative and summative evaluation will examine how Tablet PC are being utilized in these courses, their influence on students� attitudes, behaviors, and learning outcomes, and their influence on instructors� attitudes and teaching practices. Based upon the findings of this study, recommendations will be made for using and improving the use of Tablet PCs in undergraduate engineering courses as well as other courses across the University. It is expected that the results of this evaluation study will yield empirical data that will contribute to the limited scholarship on the use and effectiveness of Tablet PCs in undergraduate engineering courses. These results of this evaluation will also add to the extreme paucity of empirical in this area with special focus on engineering students from underrepresented groups. Several deliverables will emerge from this project, including instruments for use in other technology utility studies targeting diverse undergraduate student populations, a written report of the study�s findings, presentations at professional meetings, and a manuscript submission for publication in a relevant refereed journal.

Assessing the Effectiveness of Tablet PCs in a Basic Computer Architecture Course
Joseph Tront
Virginia Tech

In this study we will attempt to determine the efficacy of using Tablet PCs to enhance the teaching and learning in a very basic course in computer architecture. The course will be taught as a large lecture section (about 100 students) coupled with small recitations (about 25 students). Students from one recitations section will be loaned tablet PCs for the semester for use in taking notes in class as well as interactively participating during in-class exercises. These same students will also use their Tablet PCs in the �tablet� recitation section. This approach will allow us to carefully monitor the difference in behavior and performance of those having tablets. The common lecture allows us to subtract out the effect different instructors may have on the amount of information absorbed. We expect to make reasonably valid and highly focused observations about the advantages or disadvantages of the use of tablet PCs. Similarly, we can also more easily observe the methods of student usage of these devices and develop a list of methodology that can improve the effectiveness of tablet use. Our deliverable items will include a report on tablet-based teaching and learning efficacy as well as any observations on student or teacher best practices.

Student and Instructor Adoption: Maximizing the Impact of Tablet PCs in the Classroom
Beth Simon, William Griswold
University of California at San Diego

We willexplore the key obstacles to broad-scale student and instructor adoption of Tablet PCs in the classroom using our previous work and experience with Ubiquitous Presenter (UP) as a launching pad. Recognizing that the best instructors have well established and valuable teaching techniques, we seek to increase the base of tablet-based teachers by exploring and then developing support for a broad range of pedagogical styles within UP. We will augment this process via outreach to and support of non-computing faculty in exploring and analyzing novel ink-based pedagogies. Student adoption will hinge upon the lecture-based integration of a number of tablet-engaging activities, including active learning and electronic question asking � but integrated note taking will be key. We will develop the potential of UP�s Web-based repository and support for classroom interaction to enable student-centric, tablet-focused learning. We will develop interfaces for note taking and review of course materials spanning personal notes, instructor notes, classroom activities, and student-generated questions and comments. Finally, we seek to engage other educators � in all disciplines � to work with us in exploring the potential of the tablet in the classroom. We invite those interested in sponsoring workshops for faculty training to contact us at

Using Tablet PCs to Support a Studio Course in Programming
amuel Kamin
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The Programming Studio in the University of Illinois Computer Science Department (CS 242) is an unusual course recently introduced as a capstone to our core freshman and sophomore courses. Its purpose is to boost students� programming skills, in preparation for higher-level courses. It has the unique feature of being organized around weekly discussion sections with no more than five students, plus an instructor, in which students present and discuss their programs. In this project, we will develop two Tablet PC applications to support these discussion sections. We have found that the biggest challenge in running this course is ensuring that the discussions remain focused, engaging, and helpful. One of the applications will directly facilitate the discussions, while the other will help instructors grade, thereby allowing them to keep their attention on the discussion. The first application will facilitate code walkthroughs by allowing for annotations, shared comments, and the like; it will have a special role for the instructor, but will otherwise be a general code-review application, and may be usable outside the domain of our course. The second application will enable the instructor to make quick annotations about student participation, to field anonymous questions, and keep track of student commitments.

Comparative Evaluation of Four Modes of Tablet PC Use in Undergraduate Education
Eric Hamilton
Center for Research on Learning and Teaching/IITA

A team of faculty members from the US Air Force Academy (USAFA) is conducting a systematic evaluation of Tablet PCs in mathematics, physics, and engineering mechanics courses. The project involves four modes of Tablet PC�mediated learning and uses a mixed portfolio of four evaluation methods. Project deliverables include publications and presentations at international conferences in learning sciences and in educational innovation. One important deliverable includes a �turnkey toolkit� that outlines human-computer interaction issues in tablet use and the steps faculty elsewhere can follow to implement and evaluate tablets from a learner-centered vantage. The intention of this project is both to inform practice and build theory. The implementation modes range from use in problem-solving sessions to integration in pedagogical agent networks over collaborative workspaces. This evaluation is part of a set of projects supported by USAFA, the National Science Foundation, and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. It is intended to fill a need for systematic evaluative research for practitioner and learning science research communities internationally. The USAFA team recognizes deeply the profound human form-factor advantages that Tablet PCs offer and it is determined to find and share the conditions under which these advantages can translate to authentic learning gains.

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